TOP PICKS:  2018 highlights of music events and memorable arts moments in the DC Metro area and beyond.

by Patrick D. McCoy

With all the many arts events and opportunities in the Washington area to take part of, there are certain performances that stood tall among the rest.  The performances listed were of particular interest to this writer and made quite the impression!

NUMBER ONE:  Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green makes his Kennedy Center recital début.  As the winner of the Marian Anderson Award, Green presented a full-length recital, showcasing his magnificent instrument.  From a troubled childhood to the stages of the opera houses of the world, Green beat the odds and continues to enthrall audiences with his testimony and talent.  Read the full review here in Classical Music Voice North America.

NUMBER TWO:  Maestro Anthony Blake Clark conducts Baltimore Choral Arts in a full performance of the Brahms’ Requiem at Virginia Theological Seminary.  This special performance was hosted by the Center for Liturgy and Music at Virginia Theological Seminary as a part of there special conference focusing on choral singing, music and worship.  The performance by Baltimore Choral Arts was one of freshness, especially with the use of the four hands piano accompaniment of the work.  Learn more about Clark and Baltimore Choral Arts.

NUMBER THREE:  After several past performances of “Underground Railroad” at neighboring Music Center at Strathmore, superstar soprano Kathleen Battle brought her curated program to The Kennedy Center Concert Hall.  Read Chief Classical Music at The Washington Post Anne Midgette’s account of the program.

NUMBER FOUR:  Dana Marsh is named Artistic Director and Conductor of The Washington Bach Consort.  After a two-year period of grieving the loss of beloved founder and artistic director J. Reilly Lewis, the consort moved forward with a worthy candidate dedicated to carrying on the rich legacy. Here is a full account of Marsh’s first concert as artistic director of The Washington Bach Consort.

NUMBER FIVE:   Composer Steven M. Allen is named the winner of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts first ever Opera Composer’s Showcase.  Allen one the showcase with a performance of a vignette from his opera “Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadows.”  Held at the Clarice Smith Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts awarded Allen a $20,000 grant to present a complete performance of his opera.  Watch the exciting moment when the winner of the competition was announced.

NUMBER SIX:  The Heritage Signature Chorale presented its annual fall concert featuring the Poulenc “Gloria” and Darin Atwater’s “Proclamations.”  Listen to a conversation with Maestro Stanley J. Thurston featured on THE MAESTRO SERIES on BlogTalk Radio.  During the interview, Thurston also hearkened back to when he first conducted Darin Atwater’s work many years ago, thus creating a full-circle moment.  LISTEN HERE.

NUMBER SEVEN:  “Break a leg…or a hand in this case!”  After a ‘fight’ with a harpsichord, violinist and founder of the National Chamber Ensemble Leonid Sushansky broke his hand and was unable to play the season opener.  Securing a guest violinist to take his place, Sushansky made his conducting début with soprano Sharon Christman and mezzo-soprano Anamer Castrello in Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater.”  Instrumental works of the Baroque Period were also featured on the program.  Here my take on the evening.

NUMBER EIGHT:  Ramon Braxton conducted his ‘farewell’ concert as Minister of Music at Metropolitan Baptist Church.  Also in celebration of the church’s 154th anniversary, Braxton assembled some of his most respected mentors, colleagues and friends to present this magnificent concert held at Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church.  A host of exceptional talent was featured including Richard Smallwood, Darin Atwater, Soloman Howard and many, many others.  Watch an excerpt of Braxton conducting Nathan Carter’s arrangement of “It is Well With My Soul.”

NUMBER NINE:  Soprano Angel Blue was presented by Vocal Arts DC in her Kennedy Center début recital in works by Mozart, Strauss, Rachmaninoff and others.  A full glowing review here.

NUMBER TEN:  Blacks in Classical Music Panel-The Coalition for African-Americans in the Performing Arts assembled a panel of music experts to discuss the present state of African-Americans in the realm of classical music and trends that would lend itself to promoting diversity within in the art form.  WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION HERE STARTING @11:50

IN MEMORIAM (included at the author’s discretion)

John Bohl, Beloved countertenor and organist based in the Washington, D.C. area.  A loving tribute to the organist here.

 Soprano Montserrat Caballé, legendary opera singer and recitalist.  Read the obituary and feature story in The New York Times.

Aretha Franklin, famous singer, songwriter and Civil Rights activist.  The Guardian Reports about her death here

Of personal note, Kathleen Gallion Kirkpatrick, Petersburg singer, actress, friend and member of Christ and Grace Episcopal Church.  Her full obituary as published in The Progress Index.

Nancy Wilson, world-renowned jazz singer known for her sultry, silk-like voice. Reported by The Washington Post here.

Of personal note, Dr. George Alexander Winfield, Jr., Well-respected organist, mentor, Howard University Professor of Music, Brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc,  His obituary as published in The Washington Post


A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music for Shenandoah Conservatory.  Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including Early Music America.  He is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., a member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors  and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD. Visit